Matlock Town joint boss Craig Hopkins believes the Gladiators are finally finding their feet this season.
Matlock surrendered their hold on the Derbyshire Senior Cup at Alfreton on Tuesday night but the performance gave the management encouragement - as did the victory at Lancaster last weekend.
And, although Hopkins was disappointed that Matlock fell at the first hurdle in their defence of the county trophy, he believes the performance deserved more.
“I think it’s fair to say the better side lost,” said Hopkins. “Neutrals I spoke to said we were the better team. Really we might have had a hatful of goals but we missed our chances.
“Our general play though over the 90 minutes was very good so there are a lot of positives to take from the game despite losing.
“How we’ve not scored I’ll never know, but sometimes you get games like that and you have the feeling that those chances are going to bite you on the backside which happened.”
Four days earlier, the Gladiators had shattered Lancaster City’s unbeaten record at their Giant Axe home as a goal in each half from Jake Green and Ricky German put the visitors in a commanding position before a late rally from the Dolly Blues brought about a Tom Kilifin consolation 10 minutes from time.
“Everyone from one to 11 put a shift in and played really well,” Hopkins added. “Alongside the win at Workington, who have still only lost once at home, this was our best performance on the road this season.
“We know what we can do, our hard work brought its just rewards. We’d played well in the previous three games and wanted to carry it on and we did just that. We scored two great goals, it’s been a while since Jake scored with a header and Ricky’s goal was really well worked with a very composed finish.”
Hopkins says he won’t be answering his telephone on a Friday in future after a hat-trick of cry-offs prior to their trip up the M6.
Adam Yates was ill but had recovered sufficiently to feature at Alfreton, but winger Ted Cribley looks like being out for six weeks with a shoulder injury and on loan striker Noel Burdett has been released.
“Noel went into Scunthorpe and told them he wanted them to cancel his contract because he wants a break from the game, so that makes his loan arrangement with us null and void.
“Losing Ted is a real blow, he’s a big player for us and a lot of our chances come through him. Then to hear Yatesy was unfit put the tin hat on it, so it was nice to go up there and bag the three points.”
- Continued on page 39.